Midtown Harrisburg is coming back – and Zeroday Brewing on Reily Street is helping lead the way. Just opened in April, the family owned brewery attracts a lot of the new locals and traveling beer appreciators alike.
“I know every one of my customers” states co-owner Brandalynn Armstrong, who along with her business partner and husband Theo have grown this little 7 barrel gem of a brewery to the point where they are already planning to expand. “What differentiates Zeroday is the neighborhood, that is what we are about” she says fixing me with a firm stare.
It was three long years in the making, and there were times that the Armstrongs considered giving up, but the dream of turning their 10 year hobby of homebrewing into a business was strong. “We had problems with licensing, we were told that we had to have everything – including even having the tables and chairs in place before we could even be approved, things like that are challenges.”
But it was certainly worthwhile, and the beer is really good. One of their year round beers is their Habanero Mango Pale Ale, which I found to be refreshingly light bodied and crisp. Their newest brew – a delightful rich but dry porter called “Adam” is named after the owner of the Midtown movie theater (where Zeroday currently occupies the back portion.)
And they play around with barrels, I was quite pleased to find that their Belgian Strong Ale was offered as a flight with three different fermentations – stainless, a Willett’s Bourbon barrel finish and one from a Willet’s Rye cask. There was plenty of vanilla and maybe some maple? in the bourbon treatment. I loved the rye, adding that spicy snap to the light Belgian funk in the ale. Look for an agave saison aged in a tequila barrel this spring!
I asked about how they were treated by other brewers due to their homebrewing heritage, and Brandalynn acknowledged that it could be difficult, but that due to their emphasis on consistency and quality, other brewers welcomed their efforts. “Quality and don’t over promise, it takes a while to build”. She pointed out proudly that after only 9 months in existence they actually hosted the last meeting of the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild.
With the art house theater, local farmers market, community college and new condos nearby, there appears to be enough to help Zeroday begin to bring the venerable midtown area back to a vibrant scene. “The thing Zeroday focuses on is the community, that and making kick-ass beer” smiles Brandalynn – and as a beer appreciator I certainly wouldn’t argue with that.